Physical education specialist’s emotional burnout test and prevention provisions

Associate Professor, PhD E.A. Selivanova1
Dr. Hab., Professor D.F. Ilyasov1
Dr. Hab., Associate Professor E.A. Cherepov2
Associate Professor, PhD L.V. Smirnova2
1Chelyabinsk Educators’ Advancement and Retraining Institute, Chelyabinsk
2South Ural State University (National Research University), Chelyabinsk

Keywords: Physical Education teachers, emotional burnout, EB, advanced training course, self-learning institution, new education methods.

Background. Individual emotionality is known to tell on the personality qualities including the working capacity critical for success in the modern education system with its high mental stressors. These stressors are connected with the growing school population, children’s personality development issues, family-school relations related conflicts, growing reporting burdens etc. – that result in the physical and mental fatigue and exhaustion of the teaching staff that may end up by an emotional burnout. It is a Physical Education teacher who is primarily responsible for the positive emotional and mental climate and healthy lifestyle promotion in the school education environments and is expected to provide a healthy role model both for partners and students. This means that the Physical Education teacher’s failure in the emotional burnout control efforts will inevitably undermine his mission and make him/her virtually unfit for the school Physical Education service. That is why it is so important to detect, in a timely manner, every factor of influence on the school Physical Education teacher exposure to emotional burnouts [6].

Teacher’s emotional burnout and related issues have been subject to many studies for the last decade [2-4], as well as the emotional burnout issues in modern sports [1, 5], albeit the emotional burnout test and prevention methods and tools still need to be developed and analyzed on a more consistent and focused basis.

Objective of the study was to test and analyze the emotional control issues faced by the school Physical Education specialists, ouline the reasons for their emotional burnouts and offer the emotional burnout prevention and control solutions.

Methods and structure of the study. The study was run at the Chelyabinsk Educators’ Advancement and Retraining Institute, with the school Physical Education specialists taking the advancement course being subject to the study. The teachers self-tested their emotional states in the psychological education sessions using the V.V. Boyko Job-specific Burnout Test tools – to rate the emotional burnout phases (tension, resistance and exhaustion) by the phase-specific symptoms (four per phase) and phase progress levels (unformed, forming and formed ones). Progress of the emotional state was analyzed by the multiannual (2011-17) tests, with the data arrays summarized and analyzed in the following time points: 2011 (n=567), 2014 (n=598) and 2017 (n=623), i.e. profiled and analyzed every three years. It should be mentioned that the study was designed to obtain an all-round 7-year progress profile for the sample rather than go into details of the individual emotional states in every time point of the Physical Education specialist’s professional career.

Study findings and discussion. The 2011 test data analysis found only 28% of the Physical Education sample emotionally balanced at service: see Table 1 hereunder. Three years later (2014), the share of the emotionally balanced (virtually unexposed to emotional burnout) individuals was found to fall to 22%; and the 2017 analysis found the share further contracted to 18%. Ranked with this category were the Physical Education teachers tested with the first emotional burnout phase (tension) being unformed.

As it has been mentioned before, the emotional burnout progress may be classified into tension, resistance and exhaustion. As of 2011, 54% of the sample was tested being in the emotional burnout forming phase and 18% in the formed phase. By 2013 and 2017, the formed phase was tested in 22% and 28% of the sample, respectively – that means growth of the emotional costs of the teaching service for the 7 years: see Table 1. The phase symptoms include the vulnerability to stressors; unhappiness with own self; locked-in-cage feelings; and anxiety and/or depression. It should be mentioned that the 2011/ 2013 tests found domination of the vulnerability to stressors and the 2017 tests showed the latter being complemented by the locked-in-cage feelings. The first symptom is associated with the growing job-related frustration and anger; whilst the locked-in-cage feelings may be described as the intellectual/ emotional deadlock/ stagnation due to the job specifics.

Table 1. V.V. Boyko Job-specific Emotional Burnout Test data for the period of 2011-2017, %

Emotional burnout test level

Emotional burnout phases

Unformed emotional burnout

Forming emotional burnout

Formed emotional burnout

2011 (n=567)

Tension

28 

54 

18 

Resistance

46

42

12

Exhaustion

62

28

9

2014 (n=598)

Tension

22

56

22

Resistance

36

46

18

Exhaustion

59

30

11

2017 (n=623)

Tension

18

54

28

Resistance

27

53

20

Exhaustion

53

34

13

The second emotional burnout stage is diagnosed by dominating resistance. The 2011/ 2014/ 20177 tests showed the resistance being formed in 12%/ 18%/ 20% of the sample, respectively, as indicated by the following symptoms: inadequate/ selective emotional responses; emotional safety zone expansion; emotional/ ethical disorientation; and the service responsibility scope contraction symptom. The 2011 tests found domination of the emotional safety zone expansion symptom – with the Physical Education teachers found to save their emotional costs at work. The 2013/ 2017 tests found growths of the service responsibility scope contraction symptom – that means that the teachers’ developed the increasingly formal/ superficial attitudes to their job responsibilities in the attempt to protect themselves from the mental stressors.

The third and final emotional burnout stage (exhaustion) is particularly disruptive for the teacher’s service quality. The share of the exhausted individuals in the sample was tested to grow from 9% to 13% for the period of 2011 to 2017. This emotional burnout stage is diagnosed by the following symptoms: emotional deficiency; emotional alienation; individual detachment and personality regress; and psychosomatic/ psycho-vegetative disorders. The range of symptoms was dominated by the emotional alienation – manifested in the stalled individual reactivity to any events and impressions (both positive and negative) and, occasionally, in the ‘I don’t care’ attitudes. This mental condition, particularly detrimental for the peer relationship, is believed to be due to the sagging somatic health.

On the whole, the emotional burnout development process may be described as the growing dissatisfaction with the job that culminates in the expressed emotional burnout. It should be noted, however, that for 7 years the emotional burnout-symptoms-free share of the sample was tested to contract by 10% albeit the last-phase emotional burnout share of the sample was found to grow by 4%. On the whole, most of the sample (55%) was tested with one or another emotional burnout symptom i.e. being at the emotional burnout formation stage. The first emotional burnout stage (tension) was dominating in the sample and the final emotional burnout phase (exhaustion) was the least expressed: see Figure 1 hereunder.



Figure 1. Emotional burnout progress phases in the Physical Education teachers’ sample

The growing burden of bureaucratic procedures may be considered among the core reasons for the emotional burnout, with the modern teachers, in addition to their direct responsibilities, required to join multiple vocational mastery contests; develop new education curricula to comply with the new standards and requirements; revise the teaching material and procedures as required by the valid federal state educational standards; and prove compliance to the valid teaching standards. Moreover, the Physical Education specialists need to pass stressful skills/ competence assessment procedures as required by the new national teacher advancement system, to demonstrate, among other things, their perfect competences in the subject, teaching methods, education psychology, didactics and excellent communication skills. No wonder, that these procedures are highly stressful for many teachers, particularly for the senior and elderly ones nearing the retirement age.

The situation is further aggravated by the reported negative changes in the school population, with the healthy population contacting and the health-deficient population growing [7]. The unhealthy children are in need of special education policies and practices that are not always accessible and well known to the teaching staff. Summarizing the above, we would emphasize that the emotional burnout growth in the school education communities is quite natural and logical in the context of the never-ending reforms in the national education system. It is high time for the national education system to take efforts to prevent/ mitigate the emotional burnout progress in the Physical Education community.

We believe that the school education resource mobilizing and self-learning formats promotion initiatives may be ranked among the key emotional burnout control methods potentially beneficial for the Physical Education teachers. Schools shall encourage education staff councils, workshops and master classes to develop the legal/ regulatory, psychological and practical competences in the Physical Education specialists. The school emotional burnout community shall be kept informed, on a comprehensive and timely basis, on every new education tool and emotional burnout control technology to prevent the emotional regresses and improve the service quality. A broader inclusion of the Physical Education specialists in the education communities and partnerships will help them excel in the education service technologies.

It may also be important to encourage positive attitudes of the Physical Education specialists to the new education technologies and overcome their natural resistance to them. The school Physical Education staff is special in the sense that the Physical Education specialists give a special priority to the practical success of the service manifested, among other things, in the competitive accomplishments of the school athletes, whilst the so-called paperwork is hated by most of the Physical Education community. It should be emphasized that the modern education service shall not prioritize a top proficiency in the core subject only for success, since the interdisciplinary knowledge and technologies are indispensable for a modern teacher. In addition, teachers need to be skillful in the education service customizing to the age groups and individual specifics of the students to improve the service quality and mitigate the service stressors – that means that a special training in this field is long needed. Good knowledge of the legal and regulatory provisions for the education service will also help avoid/ mitigate the job-specific stressors and conflicts and, hence, increase the stress tolerance. Special attention will be given to the communication skills excelling trainings for the teachers being able to effectively motivate students for the competitive accomplishments.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses made it possible to profile the education burnout process in the physical education specialists, with the teachers’ unpreparedness to the educational system reforms found among the core reasons for burnouts. Most of the sample was tested with the moderate emotional burnout symptoms, i.e. the emotional burnout forming phase. The school system needs to keep the Physical Education teachers updated on the timely basis on the education reforms and requirements. The teachers’ unpreparedness for reforms shall be addressed by the focused efforts to improve their legal, psychological, educational and practical competences and versatility in the modern education environments, methods and tools, with a special emphasis on the teacher’s self-learning agenda and motivations.

References

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  7. Viktorov D.V., Krajnik V.L.,  Yanchik, E.M.,  Smirnova, L.V. Improving professional competency of students with health limitations. Teoriya i Praktika Fizicheskoy Kultury, 2018, no. 5, pp. 16-18.

Corresponding author: sel_lena@mail.ru

Abstract

The study was run in the period of 2011-2017 to accumulate the 2011/ 2014/ 2017 test data arrays for comparative analyses based on the Physical Education specialist job-specific emotional state profiling test data. It was found that the proportion of the emotional-burnout-symptoms-free Physical Education specialists have dropped for the 7 years from 28% to 18%, with most of the sample (55%) diagnosed with some emotional burnout symptoms including tension, resistance and exhaustion. The high-emotional-burnout share of the sample amounted to 9%, 11% and 13% in 2011, 2014 and 2017, respectively, with the growth explainable by a variety of stressors including the never-ending reforms in the national education system with their human resource related innovations including the new professional competence test standards, inclusive education standards, FSES, national teacher advancement and promotion system etc. The teaching service conditions are increasingly challenging for many due to the regress in the students’ health situation, with many students being increasingly aggressive – often due to the physical/ mental deviations. The educational system is obviously in need of the emotional burnout prevention service to protect health of the teachers on the whole and the Physical Education specialists in particular. Based on the study findings, we offer a set of the emotional burnout prevention recommendations that require the modern school resource making a special emphasis on the teacher’s self-learning agenda and motivations. The teachers’ unpreparedness for reforms shall be addressed by the focused efforts to improve their legal, psychological, educational and practical competences and versatility in the modern education environments, methods and tools.